catapult magazine

catapult magazine


Is punk music valid?


Sep 07 2003
12:51 pm

Thought I’d start a new topic to respond to Lopez’ comment on punk music:

“also i don’t quite believe we should blame the lack of rhythm in punk music on white people. it’s just lazy. get a bunch of guys together who donn’t want to put a whole lot of effort into learning to play their instruments and all the drumbeats will probably sound something like the sex pistols’.”

Good Punk music may be sloppy but its not lazy.

Its interesting that you should bring the Sex Pistols up. There are a couple of rock critics in Chicago who have a well respected show called Sound Opinions (tuesday nights on XRT). They said that there is something about the vocal phrasing in the Sex Pistols that was revolutionary. I think this is more evidence that punk music changed the way we think about music performance.

Punk music seems to strip everything down to the energy. There is less intricacy to distract you from the emotions the musicians are trying to communicate.


Sep 07 2003
08:33 pm

let’s see if i can make any sense out of my thoughts here:

i guess the only thing i really disagree with you on here space is that punk music is not lazy. not all punk music is lazy, but i think all good and valid punk music is and that is why it is/was so influential.

necessity truly is the mother of invention and these young, angry, lazy fellows learned a few chords, bought some instruments at a pawn shop and left the rest up to their emotion. a kind of musical impressionism i suppose. completely original? yes. admirable? listenable? i guess that’s another question.

i personally prefer musical simplicity that comes from a person or unit that you are well aware are capable of more, such as the band (not to be confused with “da band,” the subject of p. diddy’s ‘making of the band II’). as musicians, the band was capable of very cerebral compositions, but preferred to keep their music basic and bare bones.

then again i do enjoy the music of johnny cash and it doesn’t get much more unskilled or simpler than that. go figure.


Sep 07 2003
09:07 pm

whoa whoa whoa. Johnny Cash…unskilled? Please tell me you meant to say untrained!!!!!!!!!!


Sep 08 2003
07:19 am

I have to agree with Joel on this one. As much as I love the Peter Gabriels and their very very well crafted music (where everything is placed with such accuracy it is stupifying), there is something raw and driving about punk music. There is no way that you can say that Iggy Pop is just a lazy mofo (though high as a kite for too many years would be accurate). His music, and those like his, revolutionalized the rock music we hear today.

Now I will give to you that there are many a lazy band within the Punk genre. Then again, I would have to say that there are many a lazy band in the Top 100 that are successful due to PR and label insistence. Lazy types are inevitable when you try to mix artistry with aspirations of a get rich quick sceme.

The thing that I see about punk music and it’s beginings, is that it was never really about the money or the fame but more about the release. Now once you develop a following that is sucking up the entire London or New York underground club scene, the labels see a wonderful opportunity to rip more people off and thus sign them and “spread the word”.

And Johnny Cash is untrained but far from unskilled.


Sep 08 2003
08:12 am

Let’s not forget that these lazy fellows, The Sex Pistols, have tons of earlier versions of the “Never Mind the Bollocks” songs, proving that they worked very hard to get the kind of sound they were looking for. As with any ground-breaking music, it takes lots of time and effort to avoid repeating the patterns and habits of the music of the past. The discovery process does have some elements of luck, but the most important ingredient is always tenacity and perserverance until you are sure you’ve found something new and better.

The Sex Pistols were tired of the cerebralness of Pink Floyd and the pretentiousness of much classic rock—isn’t there the famous image of Sid Vicious or Johnny Rotten wearing a Pink Floyd concert T-shirt with a big X marked through it? Even though The Sex Pistols all knew the music of their times very well, they wanted to get back to the raw energy of The Who. They wanted to make an album not for the college boys who had learned from Rolling Stone Magazine that rock was to be admired as a cultural revolution, but for the working stiffs with bad teeth who had a right to be represented too.

“Never Mind the Bollocks” was a big middle finger to all the B.S. the Sex Pistols saw in rock music and to all the upper class shenanigans of their fellow Brits. Without “Never Mind the Bullocks” there would be no Nirvana’s “Never Mind”. Without Nirvana’s “Nevermind”, there might not have been Radiohead’s “The Bends”. And without Punk music, those good Christian boys from Dublin might never have become inspired to start the rock band U2. And that would have been tragic. So, yes, I believe punk music is valid.


Sep 14 2003
01:22 am

why is it considered pretentious for rock and roll musicians to be concerned with the quality and level of their musicianship?

i’m not talking about someone who has an original idea and decides to start a “musical revolution” and make a “statement through music” or something silly like that.

i’m talking about a musical unit such as ‘yes’, for instance. a group of fellas who not only have passion but have practiced their collective instruments enough to become masters of their craft.

musical idealists are a dime a dozen. i’ve got all kinds of ideas, but if i put together some sort of album it would be empty because i don’t have the musical ability to back it up. i’m lazy and therefore untalented.

i’m sure plenty of people have great ideas for paintings and other visual art pieces, but if they should paint a picture without the practical skill i’m not going to look at that crap, because it’s crap.

for some odd reason people get away with this same trick in the music world all the time. the sad thing is that consumers of this medium don’t seem to know or care. they will gladly line up and lay down their money to have their ears urinated in (to borrow a phrase). all in the name of a “good idea” or supposed musical progress when those things are just a big pendulum swinging back and forth with people getting overly excited whenever it starts to swing a different way.


Sep 14 2003
04:06 pm

Ok, ok, we get it lopez: you only like one genre of music. I hate to say it, but you’re starting to sound like a crotchety old man…“back in my day, those ’60’s musicians practiced their instruments sixteen hours a day, barefoot, in the snow!”

I don’t think you’ve noticed the information given by others on this thread, pointing out that the “lazy” sex pistols and others actually DO practice their instruments. People who are involved with making music as a career know that every single band or performer out there—even the suckiest, cheesiest, most cliched teen pop idol—works their ass off trying to perfect their product and their performance. It seems as though you have a set idea of what that performance should be…possibly wailing guitar solos or intricate harmonica riffs?

But that’s not the point. Practicing away does not a good musician make. There are myriad examples of guitar gods and Yanni disciples who have learned to play their instruments technically well. Woo hoo for them…they still suck. The ONLY thing that matters in music is communicating with the audience. Music MUST touch on something true that resonates with humankind. Otherwise what is the point?

This sort of goes back to the Johnny Cash thread. First of all, I take issue with the assertion that he didn’t know how to play his instrument well or have skill in his his “untrained” voice—he grew up practicing all day long as he sang in the fields, and certainly had learned to play his instrument after fifty years as a performer. But most importantly, he communicated with the audience. He had the aesthetic skill to recognize good songwriting when he heard it (that is, songwriting that would communicate with his audience) and he had the gift of knowing how to shape and mold the melody with his wonderful voice. How is this not a skill? This is the only skill that matters!


Sep 15 2003
07:48 pm

wow! we got us a fighter here.

first off kristin i’d like to begin by saying that you’ve got me all wrong when it comes to my tastes in music. i don’t only enjoy music from the 1960’s. i believe i have made it abundantly clear that i also do enjoy music from 1970-1972 as well. i’d hardly call that limited.

secondly, and a bit more seriously, i’m not proposing that we take all musicians with limited technical abilities and cast them to the bottom of the sea. i’m merely suggesting that, for the sake of a more well-rounded and therefore glorifying musical experience, we look for music that is not only emotionally charged, but finely crafted and yes (dare is say it) technically astute.

i’m suggesting that while some music is “good” and “valid” that does not make it essential or praiseworthy. connecting with your audience is a good first step, but it shouldn’t stop there. taking your audience somewhere and showing them something new and interesting or something old in a new way. that takes skill as well as vision and that is true art and that is praiseworthy.

britney spears connects. justin timberlake connects, but then they leave their audiences with nothing, but dance beats and vapid lyics.

your theory sounds nice and it really rings true in this post-modern relativistic society of ours. “as long as it connects with you man, that’s all that matters.” i myself enjoy artists that i am fully aware are historically un-improtant, but i am also willing to stand up and say “i enjoy the music of bad company because i enjoy that style of music, but i know it’s not very good.”

i’m just simply asking for others to have the humility and discernment to do the same.


Sep 17 2003
06:58 am

At first I wanted to spend this post making jokes about Justin and Britney connecting. But then I thought not.

It is a sad man indeed, who cannot groove to Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body”. It’s a fantastic track, if lyrically vapid. So I’m glad we’ve come this far, to be able to acknowledge that semi-forgettable pop music has merit. Now, you may be the type of person who still shuns all records on the Top 40, or that were not put out by Matador. I bet you’re fun at parties.

Or you may be the type of person who feels that most music has worth, but also falls somewhere on a continuum of quality. You’re probably this type of person.

So, is the argument we’re having here over what makes music good? I know that any given person’s answer will be dictated by personal taste (whatever that is), but there also has to be some objective reasoning behind it. Although technical ability is certainly not unrelated to deciding the overall quality of music, I would say that what makes music better or worse is not so easily nailed down.


Sep 19 2003
06:00 pm

“connecting”..huh, huh…that was cool. i’m, simultaneously, proud and dissappointed in myself for not thinking of that one.

you make some good points jasson and i think this whole thing began with what was my perception of people mistaking music that was interesting or spirited or original with music that is good. i don’t think they are always the same thing. although it doesn’t hurt.

i’ve always been a strong believer in the existence of right/wrong and good/bad. not only in the world of morality and ethics, but in the art world as well. no matter what millions of people think and do there will be actions and creations that are good, evil, right, and wrong all on their own accord because that is how this created world works. God created the world and then declared it “good”. God knows what good is which means the opposite must be true.

all i’m trying to say here is that there are good things and bad things and music is no different. and i don’t care how many aging hippies, guitar worshippers, psuedo intellectuals or teeny boppers you can fool, your music might very well suck.

so let’s enjoy music that is emotional and let’s enjoy music that is spirited and has a great dance beat. let’s enjoy music that connects and music that has kick ass guitar and a band that’s tight like collective soul (as sean voogt would say) because all that good stuff comes from God; however let’s also be honest with ourselves and not make certain people or bands into something they aren’t and realize that truly “good” music is a some sort of combination of all of the above*.

*see led zeppelin. nice.


Nov 02 2003
11:03 am

Here’s what I want to know: what’s a good definition of Punk music? I guess I always shy away from it because it seems to be as much about social protest as it does music, which makes it “low” art, whatever that means.

I heard it explained in a lecture awhile ago that art which is aimed directly at some political issue to is valid art, but generally considered to be a less pure art form—“art for art’s sake” being the higher form.

But sometimes I wonder if that isn’t all just bull’s crap.

Joel et al., are the Sex Pistols and Pixies etc. AS SKILLED and innovative musically as their contemporaries who weren’t flipping everyone the bird? Or is punk music an effective, valid fusion of music and fuck-you politics that results in a new art form?